Unlawful Poetics is a grassroots collaborative project creating life-affirming, liberatory poetry out of hateful, repressive legislation. The United States is currently undergoing a resurgence of violent legislation that weaponizes language in an attempt to criminalize and erase LGBTQ2S+, BIPOC, immigrant, and other marginalized communities. In response, this project invites activists, organizers, artists, poets, and everyday people to literally erase repressive language so liberatory language can emerge.
Launched in tandem with "Can't Stop Change: Queer Climate Stories from the Florida Frontlines", this project will first focus on poetry related to Florida legislation, but will later invite submissions and participation from anywhere repressive legislation is occurring.
Submitted poems will be compiled into a public digital collection for everyone to be able to access and share.
Erasure poetry is a poetic form in which poets erase, black out, or obscure sections of an existing text. Through the process of erasing, the poet creates something entirely new. Erasure poems can be created using print texts by using pens or markers to obscure letters, words, or entire sentences. Poems can also be created digitally using tools like Word, Google Docs, Pages, or Adobe Reader.
To write a poem for Unlawful Poetics, choose a piece of repressive Florida legislation as the base text for your poem. Several legislative options are offered on this page. Then, use whatever artistic process you prefer to create a liberatory and life-affirming poem. Submit your poems as .jpg or .pdf files at the Google form.
Unlawful Poetics is currently seeking submissions related to any piece of Florida legislation. To help poets navigate the tedious and complex process of researching and reading through legislation, Unlawful Poetics pulled sections from some particularly repressive laws that represent a wide range of issues. Poets are encouraged to write from the pages selected, but can also access the entire legislative text. Please note that these legislative summaries were not reviewed by legal or policy experts and are not intended as legal advice.
(See more poems on Instagram - @unlawfulpoetics)
Title: Disorderly Conduct
Poet: Yarrow Koning (they/them)
Location: West Palm Beach, FL/Atlanta, GA
Legislation: HB1690 - Don't Say or Be LGBTQ+ Expansion
Title: Penal (Penile) Violation
Poet: Autumn Kioti (they/them)
Location: Lake Worth, FL
Legislation: SB 300 - 6 Week Abortion Ban